by Sonja Karkar
The following article was first published in CounterPunch on 2 October 2007. Much of what was said then remains relevant almost three years later. It has been updated only to take into account some of the events since then.
It is a curious phrase this “right to exist”. Israel wants the world to accept its “right to exist” as a state, but it denies the indigenous Palestinians their right to exist as a people in their own land. International relations only acknowledges the rights of people, not states.  States exist because of the formal recognition afforded them by other states, and now that Israel is recognised as a state, it in fact exists. It makes no sense to demand that a political party recognise Israel’s “right to exist”, much less punish 4 million Palestinians because a majority voted the Hamas Party into government. Yet, these are the very words that are holding the Palestinians, particularly those in Gaza, to an impossible ransom.
For the outside world, Israel’s demand for the “right to exist” seems a natural enough request and easy enough words to say. However, most people have no idea of the real import of those words for the Palestinians. For them to accept the “right to exist”, effectively means that they accept their own dispossession. That dispossession is still going on after 60 years and there are now some 6 million Palestinian refugees who are refused their right to return home or even a modicum of compensation. And, that is not counting the 4 million Palestinians under Israel’s occupation who daily see more of their land taken from them while they are squeezed and contained in what remains, or the 1.5 million Palestinian citizens in Israel whose rights are being increasingly compromised and denied. As long as the Palestinians exist, Israel will always see them as an obstacle to its ultimate quest for an exclusively “Jewish state” in a greater Israel.